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Last Updated: April 9, 2020 10 hours ago

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  • Government to sanction Rs.15,000 crore to strengthen Indias fight against COVID-19 outbreak

    10 hours ago
    The Government of India sanctioned Rs.15,000 crore package to strengthen India's fight against the novel coronavirus. The amount will be used for COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package. COVID-19 Funds: ♦ Out of the Rs.15,000 crore fund allocated by the Central government, Rs.7,774 crore will be used for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response. The rest of the amount will be used for medium-term support of 1-4 years. ♦ The COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package will be implemented in three phases. The first phase will be from January 2020 to June 2020, the second phase from July 2020 to March 2021 and the third phase from April 2021 to March 2024.  ♦ The fund will be shared among all states and union territories (UTs). ♦ The main objectives of the package include mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COVID-19 dedicated treatment facilities.  ♦ The fund also includes several measures like centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, biosecurity preparedness, build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks, pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities. ♦ So far, the Health Ministry has already disbursed Rs.4,113 crore to all the States and UTs for dealing with the emergency COVID response.

    Centre to announce second coronavirus stimulus worth Rs.1 lakh crore to help small firms

    10 hours ago
    Centre is to announce around Rs.1 lakh crore ($13 billion) stimulus and focus on help for small and medium businesses that are suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak.  Highlights: ♦ The second package is expected to focus largely on MSMEs. ♦ As per a government estimate, Small businesses in India account for nearly one-quarter of India's $2.9 trillion economies. The sector employs more than 500 million workers. ♦ The new package could include raising in the limits of bank loans for working capital needs, an increase in the threshold limits for availing tax exemptions and relaxing rules for deposits of income tax and other dues. ♦ The Industry body AIMO, which represents around 100,000 small manufacturers said that more than two-thirds of its members faced problems in paying salaries. Background: Earlier, India outlined an Rs.1.7 lakh crore ($22.6 billion) economic stimulus plan to provide direct cash transfers and food security measures to give relief to millions of poor hit by an ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.

    Centre to deposit Rs.1,000 in women PMJDY accounts in two installments

    11 hours ago
    Ministry of Finance announced Rs.500 has been deposited in each Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) account held by women for the month of April and Rs.500 more will be given over the month of May in equal installments. A total of 38.08 crore accounts are benefitting under the PMJDY. Out of it, 20.60 crore accounts are held by women across India. As of 1 April 2020, the deposits in the PMJDY accounts stood at over Rs 1.19 lakh crore. The aim is to provide help and support to the people amid the lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY): PMJDY was launched on 28 August 2014. It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an aim to provide universal access to banking facilities to all households. The main objective of the scheme is to expand and provide affordable access to financial services like bank accounts, remittances, credit, insurance, and pensions.

    SC directs private labs to make COVID-19 test free of cost

    12 hours ago
    The Supreme Court (SC), in an interim order, directed the government to make COVID-19 testing by private laboratories free of charge. Currently, the Private lab charges are capped at Rs.4,500 apiece whereas the test is free at government facilities. The move by the SC comes as the fee charged for testing may not be affordable for most people. Highlights: ♦ The order stated that Private hospitals and labs must play an important role in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.  ♦ It said that the tests must be carried out in labs that are certified by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) or agencies approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). ♦ There are 118 government labs in India that can afford only 15,000 tests. Hence the SC asked the Central government to tie up private test labs.  ♦ It directed the corporates to reimburse Rs.2,000-2,500 through corporate social responsibility (CSR) to private labs so that their material costs can be recovered.

    SCTIMST design super absorbent material for safe management of infected respiratory secretions

    13 hours ago
    Scientists at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) have designed and developed the "Chitra Acrylosorb Secretion Solidification System," a highly efficient superabsorbent material for liquid respiratory and other body fluid solidification. It can also be used as a disinfection for the safe management of infected respiratory secretions.   What is the need? Generally, in the ICU, the secretions of the patients are sucked by a suction machine into bottles or canisters. It should be emptied when it gets full. It includes the decontamination process in a sluice room and discarded through the waste fluid disposal systems. Hence, well-equipped sluice rooms with disinfection facilities, which is an issue in less well-equipped hospitals or makeshift isolation wards during epidemics.  Chitra Acrylosorb Secretion Solidification System: The newly designed superabsorbent material can be effective in the safe management of infected respiratory secretions. In the developed system, suction canisters, disposable spit bags have been designed with "AcryloSorb" technology. AcryloSorb can absorb liquids at least 20 times more than its dry weight and also contains a decontaminant for in situ disinfection. Containers filled with this material will immobilize the contaminated fluid by solidifying it in a gel-like form. It will avoid spillage and will also disinfect it. The canister containing the solidified waste canister can then be decomposed as all other biomedical waste by incineration. This technology reduces the risk for the hospital staff, the need for personnel for disinfecting and cleaning the bottles and canisters for reusing them and makes the disposal safer and easier. It will reduce the risk faced by the nursing and cleaning staff with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19.

    MoHUA launches revised version of Swachhata App to handle queries specific to COVID-19 pandemic

    13 hours ago
    The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced the launch of a revised version of the existing "Swachhata-MoHUA App". The pilot version of the revised version of the App is being tested. After its feedback, it will be launched across India. Swachhata-MoHUA App: ♦ The Swachhata-MoHUA App is a highly popular grievance redressal tool for citizens. It functions under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) and already has over 1.7 Crore+ urban users across the country.  ♦ The app has now been modified and strengthened further in order to enable citizens to get their COVID-related complaints also redressed by their respective Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). ♦ The revised version of the Swachhata App includes 9 categories to better support citizens during this COVID pandemic.  ♦ The nine categories of the revised Swachhata App are: 1. Request for Fogging and Sanitation during COVID-19 2. Violation of Quarantine during COVID-19 3. Violation of Lockdown during COVID-19 4. Report Suspected case of COVID-19 5. Request Food during COVID-19 6. Request Shelter during COVID-19 7. Request Medicine during COVID-19 8. Request assistance for COVID-19 patient Transport 9. Request Waste Pickup from Quarantine Area ♦ Swachhata App serves as an effective digital tool that enables the citizens to play an active role in the Swachhata of their cities and increase accountability on the part of ULBs.

    Fuel demand may decline to 40 percent in April amid lockdown

    14 hours ago
    A report by India Ratings stated that the fuel demand witnessed a fall by around 20% in March amid the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, capacity utilization levels have fallen to 50% in March. Report Highlights: ♦ The decline in the fuel demand will impact pricing and increase borrowing costs for oil marketing companies.  ♦ It stated that the fuel demand will decline further to 40% in the month of April 2020. ♦ This is due to the 21-day national lockdown because of which individuals have remained indoors, shops and businesses shut, and vehicular movement, including the airlines, railways, trucks and private vehicles, remaining off the roads. ♦ The report also stated that the capacity utilization has remained high for oil marketing companies (OMCs) whose sales to own production ratio is significantly high, as they lowered external purchases while ensuring their refineries run at full utilization.

    Dr. Jitendra Singh distributed 2200 Essential kits to the needy families in Delhi

    14 hours ago
    Kendriya Bhandar that functions under the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has taken the unique initiative of providing "Essentials Kits" to needy families in Delhi due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Kits were delivered by Union Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions and DoNER Dr. Jitendra Singh. The Minister handed over 2200 Essential Kits to needy families in the wake of COVID-19. Each such Kit consists of 9 items which will help the needy to help them sustain during the lockdown. The kit includes 3 Kg of Rice, 3 Kg of Wheat Flour​​, 2 kg of Dal, 1 lt of Cooking Oil​​​, 500 gms of Chiwda/Poha​​, 1 kg of Salt, a Bathing Soap​​ bar, a Detergent Soap​​ bar, 3 pockets of Biscuits​​​. 1700 kits were handed to SDM, Civil Lines, Central Delhi District, and the remaining 500 kits will be given to DM (Central).

    NCL partners with BEL to speed up the manufacturing of Digital IR Thermometer

    15 hours ago
    CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) Pune, Maharashtra has designed and developed Digital IR Thermometer to held in the help in the mitigation of the Coronavirus outbreak. NCL has partnered with Bharat Electronics Ltd, Pune (BEL) to speed up the manufacture of the newly designed thermometer. Digital IR Thermometer: ♦ CSIR-NCL developed a handheld digital Infra-Red (IR) thermometer. It is the primary and important component that is used to measure Coronavirus infection. Digital IR Thermometer can be charged using a mobile phone or power bank as a power source.  ♦ NCL has made the design of IR thermometers available in open source to manufacturers across India for free. The guidelines give complete details about the manufacturing ready hardware and software design. ♦ The effort is to enable a large number of manufacturers to manufacture the thermometers and cater to their local demands.   ♦  About 100 prototype units will be made for pilot distribution and testing at TUV Rheinland India Pvt Ltd Bangalore. NCL: Established: 1950 Location: Pune, Maharashtra National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) is a government based laboratory that functions under the aegis of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) India. NCL has a  wide research scope and specializes in organic chemistry, catalysis, chemical engineering, biochemical sciences, process development, polymer science among others.

    I-T department to release all pending income tax refunds to benefit 14 lakh taxpayers

    15 hours ago
    The Centre has announced that it is to issue all the pending income-tax refunds up to Rs.5 lakh immediately. The move by the Centre is to provide immediate relief to the business entities and individuals. I-T refunds: ♦ An income tax (I-T) refund is due to a taxpayer/individual when the tax deducted from his/her income in a particular financial year is higher than his/her total income tax liability. ♦ The I-T refunds will benefit around 14 lakh taxpayers across India. ♦ The I-T department of the Ministry of Finance will also release all Goods and Service Tax (GST) and custom refunds to around 1 lakh business entities, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). ♦ A total refund grant of approximately Rs.18,000 crore will be released to the business entities.  Income Tax Department: Formed: 1860 Headquarters: New Delhi Minister responsible: Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister Chairman: Pramod Chandra Modi Income Tax Department functions under the Ministry of Finance. The department is headed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). It enforces various direct tax laws, to collect revenue for the Government of India.

    DST funds Genrich Membranes to develop membrane oxygenator equipment

    17 hours ago
    Department of Science and Technology (DST) is to support and provide funding to the Genrich Membranes, a spin-off company, based on proprietary technology licensed from CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune to increase the membrane oxygenator equipment (MOE). MOE is developed to treat COVID-19 patients. The equipment was successfully tested at Genrich.  Membrane Oxygenator Equipment: ♦ Innovative-based MOE is an indigenous hollow-fiber membrane technology that enriches oxygen in the air up to 35% under pressure of 4-7 bar, using an oil-free compressor. ♦ MOE consists of membrane cartridge, oil-free compressor, output flowmeter, humidifier bottle, nasal-cannula, and tubing and fittings. The compressed, filtered air which comes out from the compressor is fed to the membrane cartridge. It selectively permeates oxygen over nitrogen offering oxygen-enriched air as the product at the ambient pressure. The membrane cartridge can distinguish oxygen and nitrogen restricts the passage of viruses, bacteria, and particulate matter. The product air is of medical grade.  ♦ The equipment does not need trained manpower for its operation. It is portable, compact, and needs minimum maintenance. It is provided with a plug-and-play facility providing on-site and quick-start oxygen-enriched air. ♦ Medical grade oxygen-enriched air is the need of the hour facility to treat COVID-19 situations. ♦ The device has been designed to meet the requirement of respiratory interventions to treat breathlessness of the patients who have been released from Intensive Care Units (ICU).

    Centre to extend national lockdown to contain COVID-19 pandemic

    17 hours ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that the ongoing national lockdown might be extended by 15 days due to the threat and challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The decision will be made after discussion with all the Chief Ministers on 11 April.  Will the lockdown be extended? The 21-day nationwide lockdown in India was imposed with immediate effect on 25 March with an aim to curb the spread of COVID-19. Lifting the lockdown on 14 April, as decided earlier, might worsen the situation and surge the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.  Now, as the Centre is planning to extend the lockdown, it might affect more than 400 million daily wage earners in India.  Measures suggested by State Governments: ♦ The Centre urged the State governments and local authorities to take efforts to build a political consensus on containing the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. ♦ The leaders and authorities of the State government/ Union Territories (UT) have suggested the Central government to draw a detailed plan to help farmers, daily wage labourers and revive the rural economy.  ♦ Centre should consider the need to provide more financial help to the poor, farmers and daily wagers, releasing of goods and services tax dues to states.  ♦ Centre should focus on providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) to health workers in the country.

    TRIFED collaborates with UNICEF to launch a digital campaign for Tribal Gatherers safety

    17 hours ago
    Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) has partnered with United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the tribal gatherers carry on their work safely. The partnership aims to develop a digital communication strategy for promoting a digital campaign for Self Help Groups (SHGs) to highlight the importance of Social Distancing.  Collaboration Provision: ♦ As per the partnership, UNICEF will provide the necessary support to be circulated to the SHG centers in the form of Digital Multimedia content; Webinars for Virtual training basic orientation on COVID response, key preventive behaviors; Social Media campaigns on social distancing, home quarantine; and Vanya Radio. ♦ TRIFED joined with the Art of Living Foundation #iStandWithHumanity Initiative with a Stand With Tribal Families component to provide much-needed food and ration for the survival of the tribal community. ♦ The webinar to promote the campaign will be held on 9 April 2020. The initiative aims to cover tribal regions across all the 27 States. ♦ So far, a total of 1205 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs) have been sanctioned in 27 States and 1 Union Territory (UT). It involves around 18,075 Van Dhan Self Help Groups. ♦ Also, 15,000 of the SHGs will be promoted as Van Dhan Social Distancing Awareness cum Livelihood Centers' through a digital training program. It will create awareness and share about Do's and Don'ts Advisories during COVID-19, provide suggestive practices for maintaining personal hygiene, adopt cashless practices, among others.

    CSIR-CECRI partners with 3D Lycan for Face Shield

    18 hours ago
    CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) at Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, has developed a series of lab-made Personal protective equipment (PPEs) to fight COVID-19 pandemic. CSIR-CECRI partnered with 3D Lycan, Bangalore company to increase the mass production of Face Shield. Measures by CSIR-CECRI: ♦ The PPEs prepared by CSIR-CECRI include Hand sanitizer solutions, as per the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, Hand washes solutions using coconut oil and Sodium hypochlorite based disinfectant solutions.  ♦ These solutions are packed in containers, printed for instructions to use and distributed to the needy organizations at free of cost. ♦ It benefits the nearby Municipal Corporation, Govt. Medical College Hospital, Govt. Hospital, other police stations, and few nationalized banks, among others. ♦ Digital training to make face masks: CSIR-CECRI is also offering digital training to make face masks by interested rural women to help and cater to the needs of the people. A 3D printed face shield with reusable options has been given to the Dispensary staff of CSIR-CECRI to protect them effectively from a sneeze, cough and aerosol communication of the patients. It also launched the preparation method for electrochemical synthesis of hypo-chlorite (Disinfectant) to MSMEs to increase the production rate.  Note: For hand sanitizers, WHO has recommended the presence of 75% Iso-propanol, 1.45% Glycerol, 0.125% Hydrogen peroxide and lemongrass oil for fragrance. CSIR-CECRI: Established on: 1953 Location: Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu Director: Dr. N. Kalaiselvi CECRI functions under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). CECRI is the premier institution for research and development in electrochemical Science & Technology in India. 

    Indian Railways uses Timetabled Parcel Trains to boost supply chain

    19 hours ago
    Indian Railways introduced "Timetabled Parcel Train services" for nationwide transportation of essential commodities and other goods. The move by the Railways is to boost the supply chain across the country amid the major lockdown. The unhindered services offered by Indian Railways is expected to boost the availability of vital goods required for ordinary citizens, industry, and agriculture.  Time Tabled Parcel Trains: ♦ Time Tabled Parcel Trains are planned according to the demand of the customers. With this, the Indian Railways makes sure that all the parts of the country are connected. ♦ The trains connect vital corridors of the country namely Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata.  ♦ Under this service, proper connectivity has been ensured to Guwahati in order to ensure supplies in the North-eastern region of the country. ♦ Over 90 routes and 109 trains for Parcel Special Trains were notified since the start of the lock-down. The train service connects all the important cities of India for the transportation of vital goods at a fast speed. These services might be scaled up. ♦ The Time Tabled Parcel Trains delivers Milk Specials, Milk products, and Food products as per the customers' demand.

    DoPT launches digital learning platform to train COVID-WARRIORS

    19 hours ago
    The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, is to launch "iGOT platform," a learning platform to combat COVID-19 for all front-line workers. The digital platform to train all healthcare people who fight against coronavirus in India. DoPT's iGOT platform: ♦ DoPT aims to equip the front-line workers, including doctors, nurses and health care workers, with quality training and updates to cope up with the Pandemic. ♦ The guidelines are made available in https://igot.gov.in. ♦ The move is to provide appropriate training to them for the subsequent stages of the pandemic and training to other potential second line workforce so that the country can be better prepared for the emergent situations. ♦ The platform delivers curated and role-specific content, to each learner/user at his place of work or home in any device of the choice.  Who are the front-line workers? The front-line workers and the target group of people are the Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Hygiene Workers, Technicians, Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs), Central & State Government Officers, Police Organisations, National Cadet Corps (NCC), Civil Defence Officials, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), Bharat Scouts & Guides (BSG), National Service Scheme (NSS), and other volunteers who participate in the fight against COVID-19. What are the topics? ♦ iGOT platform has been designed to population scale and will provide training and benefit around 1.50 crore workers and volunteers.  ♦ Initially, 9 courses on iGOT platform have been launched on topics like Basics of COVID, ICU Care and Ventilation Management, Clinical Management, Infection Prevention through Personal protective equipment (PPE), Infection Control and Prevention, Quarantine and Isolation, Laboratory Sample Collection and Testing, Management of COVID-19 Cases, COVID-19 Training. ♦ COVID-WARRIORS can learn about the ways to respond to the prevailing and emergent situations, by keeping themselves updated in a real-time manner.  ♦ The platform can be accessed by following an easy to use manual for desktop and mobile versions, thereby making it accessible for all.

    Centre extended 7th Economic Census data collection period by 6 months

    1 day ago
    The Government of India has announced the extension of the data collection period for the Seventh Economic Census by 6 months, that is, till 30 September 2020. The announcement was made by the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI).  The survey engaged around 1 million people in fieldwork. The data is collected through the door to door survey of each household and commercial establishment. It is done under the provisions of the Collection of Statistics Act 2008. Background: The economic census is conducted in 2020 after a gap of five years. For the survey data collection, MoSPI has partnered with CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd. Earlier, the MoSPI had put on hold several economic surveys including the measurement of domestic tourism, unemployment, and a multiple indicator survey, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 7th Economic Census survey is being carried out since 29 June 2019. But the speed of data collection was slow. 

    ILO reported 400 million workers in India may face poverty due to COVID-19 crisis

    1 day ago
    United Nations' International Labour Organization (ILO) reported that the Indian economy is to face catastrophic consequences in the second quarter of 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.  ILO's report highlights: ♦ In its report titled 'ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work', ILO described COVID-19 pandemic as "the worst global crisis since World War II". ♦ It stated that about 400 million people working in the informal economy in India are at risk of falling deeper into poverty due to the coronavirus crisis. ♦ The report highlighted that the economic breakdown will wipe out 195 million full-time jobs or 6.7% of working hours globally in the second quarter of the year 2020. ♦ The COVID-19 pandemic might cause a catastrophic effect on working hours and earnings across the globe. International Labour Organization (ILO): ILO was forme in 1919. It became the United Nation's first specialized agency in 1946. Currently, there are 187 members. ILO brings together governments, employers, and workers and set labour standards, devise programs. It also develops policies to promote decent work for all women and men across the world. The main objective of ILO is to promote rights at work, enhance social protection, encourage decent employment opportunities, and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

    Indian researchers begin novel coronavirus genome sequencing

    1 day ago
    Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi began research on the whole genome sequencing of novel coronavirus for the first time. Genome Sequencing: ♦ Genome Sequencing will help scientists to understand the evolution of the virus, how dynamic it is and how fast it imitates.  ♦ The study will help to know how fast it evolves and what are the future aspects of it. ♦ 3-4 people from each institute are continuously working on the whole genome sequencing. At least 200-300 isolates will be studied and the information would help them to make some further conclusions about the behaviour of this virus.  ♦ National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has also been requested to give a virus that has been isolated from different places.  ♦ It is expected that the virus will help the institutes to establish the family tree of the virus.  How it is done? The whole-genome sequencing method is used to determine the complete Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence of the genome of a specific organism. For genome sequencing, samples from patients that have been found to be positive should be taken and sent to a sequencing centre. The method needs a very large number of samples for the study. Without much data, no conclusion can be made right. With around a few hundred sequencing, scientists can make many inferences from many biological aspects of this virus.

    Essential services, medicines delivered at doorstep of patients by Swasth ke Sipahi under PMBJP

    2 days ago
    Swasth ke Sipahi pharmacists of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra (PMJAK) are delivering essential services and medicines at the doorstep of patients and elderly under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) during the nationwide lockdown.  Swasth ke Sipahi: ♦ The pharmacist is working as part of PMJAK. Currently, they are extending essential services by making available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to the common people of the country and the elderly persons at their doorstep to fight the Corona pandemic.  ♦ Swasth ke Sipahi is supporting the government's initiative of practicing social distancing. PMJAK: PMJAKs are being run by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India. The main objective of PMJAK is to provide quality and affordable healthcare to anyone in need. Currently, more than 6300 PMJAKs are functioning across the nation, covering 726 districts of the country. 

    FastSense Diagnostics develops rapid diagnostic kit for COVID-19 screening

    2 days ago
    FastSense Diagnostics announced that it is currently developing two modules for the detection of COVID-19. The startup is being funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Highlights: ♦ The major challenges of testing for COVID-19 are speed, cost, accuracy, and accessibility at the point-of-care or use.  ♦ The company is to roll out two products. ♦ One is a modified Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based detection kit for confirmatory analysis in less time compared to existing detection methods. Approximately 50 samples can be tested in an hour. ♦ The second is a portable chip-based module for rapid screening of the target population based on the on-chip sensing technology that would provide on the spot results in less than 15 min per sample.  ♦ The sample size for confirmatory tests can also be increased in the future to 100 samples/ hour. ♦ The point of care detection kits of FastSense Diagnostics that can provide on the spot detection rapidly and without highly trained technicians could boost India's testing efforts in the fight against COVID-9. ♦ The two proposed modules by the company will be deployed at any real locations and hotspots like hospitals, airports, densely populated areas where screening of population can be done to prevent the spread of coronavirus to healthy individuals. The data can be generated with ease in less than an hour. ♦ It is believed that the company will make it with less cost and more affordable.

    SCTIMST developed disinfected barrier-examination booth to examine COVID-19 patients

    2 days ago
    Scientists at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) have designed and developed a disinfected barrier-examination booth to examine COVID-19 patients. It is a thoughtfully designed protective booth with clinician inputs. Disinfected examination booth: ♦ The innovative disinfected examination booth is closed like a telephone booth. It has been designed to examine the patient without direct contact with the doctor to prevent transmission of infection.  ♦ The booth is equipped with a lamp, table fan, rack, and Ultraviolet (UV) light. ♦ The booth is installed with UV light that disinfects the chamber after each patient leaves. ♦ The UV light installed in the booth has a wavelength of 254nm with a 15 watts rating, which effectively removes most of the viral load within 3 minutes of exposure.  ♦ A pair of gloves is provided in the examination booth to examine the patient's physical status. An entry tunnel on the side frame of the booth is provided to pass a Stethoscope within the chamber. This feature would help the doctor to place a stethoscope on the patient and listen to heart and breath sounds. ♦ After examination, the patient will vacate the chamber. Immediately after that, UV light will be turned on for 3 minutes. When UV exposure in the chamber is completed, the next patient can be examined. ♦ The Examination Booth has dimensions of 210 cm (H) X 150cm (D) X 120cm (W). It is designed in a way that the booth provides enough space for the patient. SCTIMST: SCTIMST was established in 1976 by the Indian Government. The autonomous institute functions under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology. It is located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. It is one of the premier research Institutes and centers in India.

    DST to fund IIT-Bombay to develop a gel for nasal passage to prevent coronavirus entry

    2 days ago
    Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is to support and fund a technology by the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering (DBB), IIT-Bombay to capture and inactivate novel coronavirus. Highlights: ♦ The funding by SERB will help DBB of IIT-Bombay to develop a gel that can be applied to the nasal passage, which is a major entry point of the coronavirus. ♦ The solution is expected to protect the safety of health workers and lead to a reduction in community transmission of COVID-19.  ♦ It will help to manage the spread of coronavirus. ♦ The health providers including doctors and nurses are at maximum risk as they work closely with the contagious COVID-19. ♦ The researchers are planning for a 2-pronged approach to limit the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  ♦ Firstly, the viruses replicate within host cells of the lungs, the first component of the strategy will be to inhibit the binding of viruses to host cells. This is expected to reduce infection in the host cell, and the viruses that will still remain active should be inactivated. ♦ Secondly, a method where biological molecules that are incorporated, would inactivate the trapped viruses in a manner similar to that of detergents. The successful completion of the project will lead to the development of gels that can be locally applied in the nasal cavity. ♦ The team who work on the project has expertise in the areas encompassing virology, structural biology, biophysics, biomaterials, and drug delivery. It is expected that the technology would be ready in about 9 months.

    India relaxed ban on exports of paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine drugs

    2 days ago
    The Government of India has relaxed a ban on exports of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) that are used to treat COVID-19. The drugs are currently placed in the licensed category. The move came as the US President Donald Trump had threatened India with retaliation if India rejected the US's demand for the supply of hydroxychloroquine.  Ban relaxation: ♦ Doctors and scientists are divided over the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine drug which is used to treat malaria and auto-immune diseases. It has been found that the drug hydroxychloroquine is the key to battle the infection. ♦ A panel led by drug pricing regulator Shubhra Singh was tasked with assessing the capability and the manufacturing capacity of domestic pharmaceutical companies. ♦ The decision was taken after verifying stock availability in the country.  ♦ India is one of the biggest manufacturers of the drug across the world.  ♦ The US along with 30 countries, including South Asian neighbours and key global partners in West Asia, had asked India to lift the ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine drugs.

    CSIR-CFTRI to provide testing equipment for COVID-19 detection

    2 days ago
    Mysore-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CSIR-CFTRI) has partnered with the district administration of Mysore, Karnataka to provide enough equipment needed for testing of samples. Highlights: ♦ CSIR-CFTRI is providing two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines and one RNA extraction unit along with necessary chemicals to the district administration. It helps to deal with such a large number of samples that are to be tested. ♦ The test for COVID-19 is very sophisticated and is being done in select centres approved for testing by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Along with the equipment, CSIR-CFTRI has deployed two skilled technicians for the period required by the District Administration. ♦ Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, Mysore college received the PCR machines on 5 April. It is expected that the centre will triple the number of tests done per day.  ♦ Also, under the partnership the RNA extraction unit will be delivered soon.  PCR method: Currently, the COVID-19 infection is detected by a sophisticated and precise technique called Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method. As per the PCR method, the RNA of the virus is extracted from samples and amplification of the same using a PCR machine. The main advantage of the PCR test is that it can detect the virus in a person at a very early stage, even symptoms emerge.

    MHRD launched Samadhan, a challenge to find quick solution to COVID-19 pandemic

    2 days ago
    The Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) in collaboration with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Forge and InnovatioCuris launched "SAMADHAN", a mega online challenge, to test the ability of students to innovate. Samadhan: ♦ Students can participate in the Samadhan challenge. ♦ The participating candidates are expected to search and develop new measures that can provide quick solutions to the Coronavirus epidemic and other such calamities. The solution can be made available to the government agencies, health services, hospitals, and other services  ♦ Samadhan will be done to make citizens aware, to motivate them, to face any challenge, to prevent any crisis and to help people get a livelihood. ♦ Under the Samadhan challenge, the faculty and students can conduct new experiments and make new discoveries. The experiments should be provided with a strong base leading to a spirit of experimentation and discovery.  ♦ Applications to participate in the competition will start on 7 April 2020. he last date for submission of application is 14 April 2020.  ♦ The names of the contestants after shortlisting will be declared on 17 April 2020. The contestants are expected to submit their entries between 18-23 April 2020. The final list of Samadhan will be released on 24 April and the grand online jury will decide the winners of the challenge on 25 April 2020.

    AP state to procure 3 lakh rapid testing kits

    2 days ago
    Andhra Pradesh state government has placed an order for 3 lakh rapid testing kits for COVID-19. AP's measures: ♦ The AP state government has identified and designated 13 hospitals in 13 districts as COVID hospitals.  ♦ It has a dedicated hospital where no other patients will be treated. The move is to avoid further transmission, said the government of the disease. ♦ The AP government authorities are to undertake extensive testing in containment zones that are established across the state where positive COVID-19 cases have been reported. ♦ After the delivery of the ordered equipment, the AP state is to undertake the exercise of randomly testing 8,000 samples from across the state to better understand the extent of the spread. ♦ The state govt. used the equipment that is used for testing of Tuberculosis on 5 positive cases and 5 negative cases. The results were accurate and hence the government has decided on a two-step testing process from hereon in some cases. The Andhra Pradesh state has seen a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 positives linked to Tablighi Jamaat prayers at Nizamuddin recently. So far, the state has reported 304 positive cases in the state.

    Centre to deploy drones to monitor the ban on religion gatherings during the lockdown

    2 days ago
    The Central government has announced that it will deploy more drones to enhance monitoring of the lockdown. GoI aims to ensure that a large number of people do not gather at religious congregations, with several festivals. The issue was taken up at the Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on 7 April.  The move is followed by the concern raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that the community leaders are being reached out to deter gatherings during Hanuman Jayanti, Good Friday and Easter-Sunday. Drones have been put to different use by many states during the lockdown. Drones will be deployed for monitoring of religious gatherings.  Measures taken by MHA: ♦ Government is taking appropriate measures and ensure hoarding and black marketing are not done.  ♦ Around 152 cargo flights were operated to ensure pharma supplies across India helping to stabilize the availability of medicines.  ♦ Special attention has been taken to keep the supply of medical oxygen smooth and hassle-free.  ♦ Also, the cyber and information security wing of MHA has cautioned against fake coronavirus videos on social media platforms. It stated that spreading fake, unverified content may make one liable for punishment as per the law.

    Centre frames norms to avoid cohorting of COVID-19 patients

    2 days ago
    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has framed detailed guidelines to manage suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases in separate graded facilities. The move is to avoid cohorting of COVID-19 patients with other patients. Highlights: ♦ Centre has prepared a special plan to separate the healthcare facilities to treat patients who show mild, moderate and severe symptoms and treat them at designated centres.  ♦ As per the norms, the healthcare facilities will be graded and designated as COVID Care Centre (CCC), Dedicated COVID Health Centre (DCHC) and Dedicated COVID Hospital (DCH).  ♦ A COVID Care Centre is a basic facility for patients who show mild symptoms will admitted to a CCC. It will makeshift facilities like a stadium, school, hostel or a quarantine facility.  ♦ A COVID Health Centre is for people who show moderate symptoms. They will be admitted to a DCHC or a separate wing of a big hospital. It would mandatorily have an adequate oxygen supply for each bed. ♦ A person with severe symptoms will be taken care of in a Dedicated COVID hospital, which has intensive care, blood bank, and oxygen supply facilities.  ♦ The three facilities would be connected with the CCC attached to a DCH. As per the norms, a patient with mild symptoms gets serious, he can be shifted to DCH. ♦ The gradation of hospitals for COVID-19 patients comes after a detailed study of countries like Italy and Spain.

    Cabinet approved ordinance to take 30 percent pay cut for one year

    2 days ago
    The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to amend the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (MP) Act through an ordinance. As per the amendment, there will be a salary cut of all ministers, including Prime Minister, for a year by 30%. The information was passed by the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.  The move is to provide financial assistance to the COVID-19 crisis. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-president Venkiah Naidu and governors will also take a salary cut of 30% for a year. The savings from the salaries will go to the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).  What is Consolidated Fund of India? CFI is the revenues collected by the Centre through direct taxes and indirect taxes, license fees, money received by the government in loan repayment, profits from public sector undertakings. CFI is used for all the expenses of the government. CFI of the Central government was established under Article 267 of the Indian Constitution and State Government was established under Article 266 of the Indian Constitution. Only with the approval of Parliament, money can be withdrawn from CFI. The fund is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India and the reports will be submitted to the Union legislatures. Rajiv Mehrishi is the current CAG of India.

    Rajnath Singh chaired GoM meeting to assess post lockdown situation

    2 days ago
    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired meeting with the Group of Ministers (GoM) on 7 April in New Delhi. The meeting focused on the assessment of the post lockdown situation in the wake of COVID-19. The meeting was attended by Union Ministers Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goel, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, Ram Vilas Paswan, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla among others. Meeting Highlights: ♦ The Ministers discussed possible ways to ease the lockdown after 14 April. ♦ The Ministers evaluated the availability and procurement strategy of medical aids and the preparedness of hospitals. ♦ In a series of tweets, Rajnath Singh said they shared the appreciation for the Union Cabinet's decision to reduce the salaries of all MPs for a year and also the suspension of MPLADS funds for 2 years. ♦ The Ministers discussed several methods to curb the spread of coronavirus infection and stay vigilant in combat against COVID-19.

    Jobless rate in India rose to 23 percent due to Lockdown said CIME

    2 days ago
    A survey released by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. (CMIE) stated that the unemployment rate in India has climbed to more than 20%. The decline has occurred as the people lost jobs after the nationwide lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Highlights: ♦ The report stated that the jobless rate based on a sample size of 9,429 observations was 23.4% as of 5 April 2020. ♦ CMIE estimated the jobless rate for the month of March 2020 as 8.7% compared with 7.8% in February.  ♦ Labor statistics for March 2020 was declined. ♦ It also stated that an estimated 100 million workers in mining, construction, manufacturing, and services sectors have been rendered jobless due to the lockdown. CMIE: CMIE was established in 1976. It is headquartered in Mumbai, India. It is a leading business information company. It provides services to the entire spectrum of business information consumers including governments, academia, financial markets, business enterprises, professionals and media. It conducts the largest survey to estimate household incomes, the pattern of spending and savings. The company analyses the data to decipher trends in the economy.

    Commerce Ministry launched online platform to issue of certificate of origin for exporters

    2 days ago
    The Ministry of Commerce has designed an online platform for the issuance of a key document required for exports to those countries with which India has trade agreements. The move aims to facilitate shipments during the COVID-19 crisis. Highlights: ♦ As per the guidelines of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an exporter should submit a certificate of origin (COO) at the landing port of the importing country. The certificate is essential to prove where their goods come from.  ♦ The submitted documents will be important to claim duty concessions under free-trade agreements (FTAs).  ♦ The platform has been designed as single-point access for all FTAs/preferential trade agreement (PTA), for all designated COO issuing agencies and for all export products ♦ The platform can be accessed at https://coo.dgft.gov.in. ♦ The preferential certificate of origin for exports to various other countries under following FTAs/PTAs shall be applied and issued only from the online platform with effect from 7 April 2020. ♦ Previously, the certificate for exports from India to Chile under a PTA, exports to Nepal under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) and shipments to Korea under India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement have been applied and issued through this online platform. 

    CM Arvind Kejriwal announced a 5T plan to stop the spread of Coronavirus

    3 days ago
    Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a 5T plan to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The 5T plan is testing, tracing, treatment, teamwork, and track.  5Ts to curb COVID-19 spread: 1. Testing: Aggressive testing can curb the spread of the new coronavirus. The Delhi government will conduct one lakh rapid tests in hotspot areas like Dilshad Garden and Nizamuddin. 2. Tracing: Tracing the people who are identified to have come in contact with a positive patient and are asked to self-quarantine. The Delhi Police is ensuring if the self-quarantine is being followed. 3. Treatment:  In Delhi, over 2,950 beds are reserved for coronavirus patients. And hospitals like LNJP, GB Pant and Rajiv Gandhi hospitals will treat only coronavirus patients. It also plans to take over 12,000 hotel rooms for the treatment. 4. Teamwork: COVID-19 can only be defeated through teamwork. Doctors and nurses are key members of the teams. All the Indian states are working along with the Centre to stop the spread of the virus. 5. Tracking & Monitoring: The Delhi government is actively tracking the developments and actions taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Delhi: Formation of National Capital Region: 1 February 1992 Lt. Governor: Anil Baijal Chief Minister: Arvind Kejriwal Capital: New Delhi

    West Bengal sought fund from Centre to combat COVID-19 crisis

    3 days ago
    West Bengal state government has asked the Centre to release Rs.5,013 crore as the revenue deficit grant to the state. The fund will be used to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.  Highlights: ♦ The grant was provided by the 15th Finance Commission. ♦ The state also sought several measures to ease its financial position as the state-specific revenue streams had dried up due to the nationwide lockdown.  ♦ The state asked the Centre to release pending goods and service tax (GST) compensation and allow states to use interest accruing to the Consolidated Sinking Fund, besides a moratorium on loan payments.  ♦ The state also asked to increase the fiscal deficit limit under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act to 5% from 3% for the ongoing financial year. ♦ The welfare measures aim to help the people, especially poor farmers, unorganized workers, and SMEs, who are badly impacted. West Bengal: Established on: 26 January 1950 Governor: Jagdeep Dhankhar Chief Minister: Mamata Banerjee Capital: Kolkata Bird: White-throated kingfisher Flower: Night-flowering jasmine Tree: Chatim tree

    ICCC of Smart city missions is used to monitor and track COVID-19 patients

    3 days ago
    Indian Smart Cities namely Bengaluru, Pune, Surat, and Tumakuru are using the integrated data dashboards to provide up-to-date information about the status of coronavirus in different administrative zones of their cities. The data dashboards are developed by the data analysts and data experts who work with their Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) and function as COVID-19 War Rooms in many cities.  Pune: In Pune, the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) partnered with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). The partnership has aimed to develop an integrated data dashboard to fight COVID-19 pandemic. The city administration uses heat-mapping technologies and predictive analytics to develop a containment plan and the containment zones get reflected on the dashboard.  Surat: In Surat, the Surat Municipal Corporation has published an online dashboard on its municipal website, https://www.suratmunicipal.gov.in/others/CoronaRelated, to provide regular updates to the citizens.  Bengaluru and Tumakuru: In Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has set up a 'war room' to use technology to conduct surveillance on people within an 8km radius of a confirmed patient, so as to contain the spread of the virus.

    Railway Control Office to assist to resolve issues in freight operations

    3 days ago
    Indian Railways has opened a Railway Control Office after the declaration of lockdown amid due to the coronavirus pandemic in order to assist railway passengers, other citizens and help resolve issues in freight operations. Centralized Control Office: ♦ Railway control office has been doing 24x7 monitoring of four communication and feedback platforms namely Helplines 139, 138, social media and email (railmadad@rb.railnet.gov.in).  ♦ The queries were answered by its IVRS facility.  ♦ Railways aim to ensure a seamless flow of information and suggestions between Railway Administration and the general public during the lockdown. ♦ Under the facility, the Railway personnel has responded to over 1,25,000 queries in the first 10 days on designated communication platforms, out of which over 1,09,000, 87% queries, were handled through direct human interaction over the phone.

    NHAI achieved highest ever Construction of National Highways in 2019-20 Financial year

    3 days ago
    National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has accomplished the construction of 3,979 km of national highways in the financial Year 2019-20.  It is the highest ever highway construction achieved in a financial year by NHAI.   Bharatmala Pariyojana: ♦ The ambitious highway development program of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways includes the development of about 65,000 km of national highways.  ♦ Under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana, the Ministry has approved the implementation of 34,800km of national highways in 5 years with an outlay of Rs.5,35,000 crore.   ♦ NHAI has been mandated to develop about 27,500km of national highways under Bharatmal Pariyojna Phase-I. ♦ Also, a large number of initiatives have been taken to revive the stalled projects and expedite completion of new projects including: ► Streamlining of land acquisition and acquisition of a major portion of land prior to the invitation of bids. ► Cases to be disposed of the Change of Scope (CoS) and Extension of Time (EoT) in a time-bound manner ► Procedure for approval of General Arrangement Drawing for ROBs simplified and made online.   ► Close coordination with other Ministries and State Governments ► One time fund infusion ► Regular review at various levels and identification/ removal of bottlenecks in project execution ► Proposed exit for Equity Investors ► Securitization of road sector loans ► Disputes Resolution mechanism revamped to avoid delays in the completion of projects.  NHAI: Formed on: 1995 Headquarters: New Delhi Chairman: Sukhbir Singh Sandhu The Authority is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). The NHAIis a statutory body. It was created under the provisions of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body. It is responsible for the management of a network of National Highways in India. 

    Indian Railways has converted 2500 coaches into Isolation Units

    3 days ago
    Indian Railways has successfully converted 2500 coaches as Isolation Units with limited manpower amid the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak. The move by the Railways is to supplement the national efforts in combating COVID-19. The initial task was to prepare 5000 coaches as isolation wards for the COVID-19 infected patients. With the conversion of around 2500 coaches, 40000 isolation beds are now ready for contingency. On average, 375 coaches per day are being converted by Indian Railways. The conversion is being carried out at 133 locations in the country. Isolation Units: ♦ The isolation coaches will be used all across the country and will remain on railway premises.  ♦ These coaches are equipped as per medical advisories issued. ♦ For the isolation cabin, middle berth from one side and all the three berths have been removed in front of the patient berth. ♦ Air curtains in each compartment have been provided. ♦ Each compartment is provided with four bottle holders and a 220-volt electric point for medical instruments. ♦ The aisle areas of the bathrooms have been modified to prepare the isolation coaches. A hand shower, one bucket, and a mug are placed in each bathroom.  ♦ With these provisions, there are 10 isolation wards in each coach. ♦ Indian Railways is to make more designs of the isolation coaches as a measure to combat COVID-19. ♦ The isolation coaches are being prepared only as a contingency and to supplement the efforts of the Ministry of Health in fighting the COVID 19.

    Module Innovation to develop rapid test for detection of COVID-19 infection

    3 days ago
    The Department of Science & Technology (DST) funded 'Module Innovations', a Pune based healthcare startup to develop a rapid diagnosis of diseases to develop a product for detecting COVID 19 with a 10 to 15-minute test. nCoVSENSEs (TM) module: ♦ The startup is now developing nCoVSENSEs (TM) module. It is a rapid test device for the detection of antibodies that have been generated against the COVID-19 in the human body. ♦ The nCoVSENSe test detects the Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies that generated in the human body upon the onset of viral infection and is targeted against the Spike proteins making it specific for COVID-19. ♦ The rapid test device will make it possible to confirm infection in patients and also determine whether an infected patent has recovered. ♦ The device will also identify the stage of infection in the patients. ♦ The new rapid test will help manage the problem in a more efficient way at a lesser cost. The current confirmatory method of Real-TimeReverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) takes a long time and needs trained manpower.  ♦ The test kit will be used to screen patients and passengers at airports, railway stations, hospitals to safeguarding in any future outbreak as well.

    DST supports Anti-Microbial coating developed by JNSCAR

    3 days ago
    The Department of Science & Technology (DST) has approved the anti-microbial coating which was developed by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). It also supports the further development of the coating for India's combat against COVID-19. Anti-Microbial coating: ♦ When coated on different surfaces such as textiles, plastic and so on, the coating could kill a range of virus types including COVID-19. ♦ The covalent anti-microbial coating kills the influenza virus and resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and fluconazole-resistant C. Albicans spp. ♦ No covalent coating strategy has been developed to kill all viruses, bacteria, and fungi, so far. ♦ The antimicrobial coating can be fabricated on many types of surfaces. The robustness of the coating eliminates the necessity of skilled personnel for the procurement of the coating. ♦ Coronavirus, like influenza, is also an enveloped virus. It is expected that the coating may inactivate SARS-CoV-2 upon contact and prevent contamination if coated on various surfaces. ♦ The molecules have the ability to chemically cross-link with different surfaces upon Ultra Violet (UV) irradiation. The formation of the coating permeabilized the membranes of pathogens leading to their inactivation. ♦ The anti-microbial coating on the surfaces was evaluated for their antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity successfully.

    Edible oil imports in India declined to 32.44 percent in March

    3 days ago
    Trade body Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) reported that India's edible oil imports have declined 32.44% to 9,41,219 tonnes in March 2020. The reason for the decline is due to government restrictions on the purchase of refined palm oil from the overseas market. India had imported 13,93,255 tonnes in March 2019.  Report Highlights: ♦ India is the world's leading vegetable oil buyer.  ♦ The share of palm oil is more than 60% of India's total vegetable oil imports.  ♦ It highlighted that there was a 90% fall in import of refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) palmolein at 30,850 tonnes in March 2020 against 3,12,673 tonnes in 2019.  ♦ It highlighted that the import of RBD palmolein has been reduced drastically as the commodity has been put on a restricted list of trade since 8 January. In order to place palm oil in a restricted category, the importer will require licence or permission for the inbound shipment. ♦ SEA also stated that the import of crude palm oil (CPO) and crude palm kernel oil (CPKO) have declined by 38% to 3,04,458 tonnes during March 2020 against 4,89,770 tonnes during 2019.  ♦ Also, the import of soyabean oil declined marginally to 2,92,410 tonnes in March 2020 against 2,92,925 tonne in March 2019. ♦ It highlighted that the November-March period of the 2019-20 oil year, total edible oils imports declined 10% to 53,91,807 tonnes against 60,05,067 tonnes in the year 2019.  Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA): SEA was established in 1963. The aim is to help and foster the development and growth of the Solvent Extraction Industry in India. SEA currently has 875 members with about 350 working solvent extraction plants which has the processing annual capacity of about 30 million tonnes. Note: The Oil year runs from November to October.

    Cabinet approved Non-operation of MPLADS for two years

    3 days ago
    The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved Non-operation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years from 2020-21 to 2021-22. The move is to provide support in managing the COVID-19 outbreak. The move is a part of the Government's continued efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. The funds from the scheme will be used to strengthen the Government's efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID19 in the country. MPLADS: The scheme was launched on 23 December 1993. It was administered by the Ministry of Rural Development. The scheme enables the Members of Parliaments (MP) to recommend developmental work in their constituencies to create durable community assets based on locally felt needs.

    DST sets up CAWACH to combat COVID-19 pandemic

    3 days ago
    Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India has set up a Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH). The centre is a rapid response to combat COVID-19 global pandemic.   Aim: The CAWACH program focus to leverage the youthful energy, intelligence and extraordinary innovative potential of technology incubators and startups. It also aims to empower them to speedily address the multi-dimensional challenges of COVID-19 across respiratory aids, information and monitoring  assists, disinfection systems, protective gear and coatings, diagnostics, and a plethora of other relevant materials, devices, and solutions CAWACH: ♦ The total cost of the centre is Rs.56 crore.  ♦ The centre is to evaluate and support the innovations and start-ups that address COVID-19 challenges. ♦ The centre will be implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), a technology business incubator at IIT-Bombay. ♦ Through the program, DST aims to support R&D initiatives by boosting innovations offering comprehensive solutions like Ventilators, Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Informatics and other intervention for control and mitigation of COVID-19. ♦ The centre will support startups at different stages for fast-tracking commercialization process and journey and scale-up across geographies which will have a significant impact in the long term. ♦ It will provide access for all India networks for testing, trial and market deployment of these products and solutions in the identified areas of priority COVID-19 solutions.  ♦ The program will help to address various challenges faced by the country due to the Coronavirus crisis.

    IIT-Roorkee launched Prana-Vayu, a low-cost portable ventilator

    3 days ago
    Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee in association with AIIMS-Rishikesh has developed 'Prana-Vayu,' a low-cost portable ventilator. The closed-loop ventilator can be manufactured for just Rs.25,000. Prana-Vayu: ♦ Prana-Vayu is a closed-loop ventilator. It can deliver the required amount of air to the patient, with an automated process controlling the pressure and flow rates. ♦ The developers presented the machine to more than 450 companies and several have expressed interest in commercial production.  ♦ It also has feedback that can control tidal volume and the number of breaths per minute. ♦ The ventilator can be used for a wide degree of congestions in the respiratory tract and is applicable for all age group patients, especially the elderly.  ♦ The prototype has been tested successfully for normal and patient-specific breathing conditions. It does not require additional compressed air for functioning and can be especially useful in cases when hospital wards or open areas are converted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICUs). ♦ The low-cost ventilator will be highly useful for COVID-19 patients, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.

    Union HRD Minister launched MHRD AICTE COVID-19 Student Helpline Portal

    3 days ago
    All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) launched a unique MHRD AICTE COVID-19 Student Helpline Portal to address the issues faced by students. The students are facing difficulties due to the closure of colleges and hostels in the view of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was launched by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank." MHRD AICTE COVID-19 Student Helpline Portal: ♦ The students can make use of the website with an URL https://helpline.aicte-india.org ♦ Student interns Shivanshu and Akash of Graphic Era University developed the portal in a record time of one day. ♦ The portal aims to connect those who are willing to provide help with the student who needs help. It also provides various support including Accommodation, Food, on line Classes, Attendance, Examinations, Scholarships, Health, Transport, Harassment, etc.

    C-MET develops a low-cost indigenous prototype of polymer swab

    4 days ago
    A scientist from the Pune-based Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) has developed a low-cost indigenous prototype of polymer swab. It can be used to collect the samples for coronavirus testing. If the product gets approved for production, the country will not need to depend on imported swabs.  Implemented by: The indigenous prototype of polymer swab is produced jointly by C-MET, which functions under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology; SRI Research for Tissue Engineering Private; Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru; Rangadore Hospital; and Additive Manufacturing Society of India. Polymer swabs: ♦ India has been importing testing kits and polymer swabs primarily from Italy, Germany and the United States. Because of the import restrictions and international lockdown, a shortage of these kits might occur.  ♦ The swad satisfies the guidelines of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). ♦ The polymer swab is used to collect a sample from the upper respiratory tract of a patient.  ♦ A specialty polymer from the polyester family and a rod made up of Polypropylene has been used to develop the prototype of the swab. ♦ The Prototype will be forwarded for clinical trial and testing.

    CSIF to provide COVID-19 protective gear and healthcare paraphernalia to its personnel

    4 days ago
    The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is to provide COVID-19 protective gear and healthcare paraphernalia for its over 40,000 personnel. The CISF personnel will be having close physical interaction with lakhs of passengers once airports and the Delhi Metro re-start operations. CSIF measures: The CISF take several measures on anti-coronavirus protection for its troops. The move comes after 2 of the CSIF personnel in Mumbai have tested positive for the COVID-19 infection. CSIF has enhanced beds in 349 units of isolation wards so that more personnel can be accommodated in case of requirement. CSIF: Formed on: 10 March 1969 Headquarters: New Delhi, India Minister responsible: Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Director-General of CISF: Rajesh Ranjan CSIF functions under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It covers around 300 industrial units, government infrastructure projects and facilities and establishments located all over India. It is a unique organization in paramilitary forces for India.

    Amitabh Kant chairs Empowered Committee to review coordination between various stakeholders for COVID-19-related response activities

    4 days ago
    NITI Aayog CEO  Amitabh Kant chairs Empowered Committee to review coordination between various stakeholders for COVID-19 related response activities. The committee constituted of members namely Vikram Doraiswami, (AS, MEA); Dr. Vijayaraghavan, PSA; Kamal Kishore (Member, NDMA); Sandeep Mohan Bhatnagar (Member, CBIC); Anil Malik (AS, MHA); P. Harish (AS, MEA); Gopal Baglay (JS, PMO); Aishvarya Singh (DS, PMO); Tina Soni (DS, Cabinet Secretariat);  and the work of EG6 is serviced by Sanyukta Samaddar (Adviser, SDG, NITI Aayog). Highlights: ♦ The meeting discussed the issues faced and the expectations of the government. ♦ It aimed to formulated plans with three groups of stakeholders namely: 1) The UN agencies, World Bank, Asian Development Bank 2) Civil Society Organisations and development partners 3) Industry associations namely Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India  (ASSOCHAM), NASSCOM ♦ The committee appealed to over 92000 NGOs/ CSOs registered on the Darpan portal of NITI Aayog. The committee directed them to provide assistance to the government in identifying hotspots and deputing volunteers and caregivers to deliver services to the elderly, persons with disabilities (PwDs), children, transgender persons, and other vulnerable groups. It also directed them to create awareness about social distancing, prevention, isolation, and combating COVID-19 and provide shelter to homeless, daily wage workers, and urban poor families. ♦ It discussed all the proactive measures taken by the government to combat COVID-19.

    MSME Technology Centres contributed to combat COVID-19 outbreak

    4 days ago
    MSME Technology Centres in India have provided masks, medical gowns, ventilators, sanitizers, components of Corona Testing Kits, etc. to combat Coronavirus. 18 operational Technology centres of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) are playing a major role in the fight with COVID-19. Measures taken by MSME sector: ♦ Central Footwear Training Institute (CFTI) Chennai provided masks and medical gowns.      ♦ MSME Technology Centre, Hyderabad is developing a prototype of an electro-mechanical ventilator which is based on sensors. The first prototype will be ready soon.  ♦ SME TC, Aurangabad developed and supplied a 3D prototype of Face mask.  ♦ Central Tool Room and Training Centre (CTTC), Kolkata developed a simple and low-cost ventilator system in consultation with Sagar Datta Super specialty hospital. It has also developed a Face shield prototype. ♦ MSME Technology Centre, Kannauj is manufacturing Alcohol-based sanitizers and is supplied to DM, Farrukhabad, Railways and other organizations.  ♦ Institute for Design of Electrical Measuring Instruments (IDEMI) is developing an ion-based sanitizer. ♦ MSME Technology Centre, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, and Jamshedpur have manufactured components for 650 Corona Testing Kits.  ♦ GM, TC Bhubaneswar is making tools and components through its various TCs namely CTR, Ludhiana; IDEMI, Indo German Tool Room (IGTR), Aurangabad, Kolkotta and IDTR, Jamshedpur.  ♦ ESTC Ramnagar has designed Intravenous (IV) Stand.  ♦ ESTC hostels have been converted as Shelter home for 80 migrant labours.  ♦ MSME Technology Center, Bhiwadi, and TC, Jamshedpur offered vacant rooms for establishing isolation centres. ♦ Process and Product Development Center (PPDC) AGRA and IGTR Indore jointly manufacture hospital furniture.  ♦ PPDC, Meerut has fabricated Face masks and distributed free of cost.  ♦ CFTI Agra has fabricated Medical Gowns for M/s Ramsons, Agra and fabricate triple-layered Face masks.

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